|The source of the excitement (note the red ashpan, left)|
In the morning, however, I was pleased to see that the fire cement I had used to stop the flue pipe rattling about had taken and solved that problem, but the cement being grey and the pipe and stove black it looked a bit of a mess. The answer was apply stove polish - but that can only be done when the fire is out so, in the cold of an April morning, - and before breakfast - I set to with the polish. One thing led to another of course and I ended up polishing the whole stove, flue pipe and all, before re-lighting the fire.
I was at least prepared for what happened next: as the stove warms up the polish dries and gives off fumes which - you've guessed it - set off the smoke alarm again!
Leaving the stove for a while I moved my attention to the front well. The side lockers were emptied and cleaned and the tops, which double as seats, given a coat of varnish, which spread to the sides and then to the cratch frame and board. The contents of the lockers were sorted through and a few things thrown away (but still leaving quite a bit of stuff that I've never used, don't know what it's for but which might come in handy, some day).
Then it was the turn of the brasses. These have got into a terrible state over the winter - far beyond the powers of Brasso and the like. Here I used some brass restorer from "Brilliant" - far too expensive to use on a regular basis but it at least saves a fortune on elbow grease and prepares the brass for a second going over with Brasso to restore the shine.
Then, somewhat reluctantly, as it is my least favourite boat job, it was back to the stove. The flue pipe needed sweeping. In theory this is simple - just ram the flue brush down the pipe a few times and brush the soot to the bottom where it falls into the grate for easy removal. Except that it doesn't. What it does is collect on the baffle plate below the flue from where it can only be removed by sticking your hand up inside the stove and scooping it out with your fingers! You can imagine the state of my hands and arms after that little job.
Still, Starcross is now ready for the off and plans for at least the first part of the summer are coming into place. . .